I'll be here in Hong Kong for a few days. Just attended the IFA Global Press Conference (GPC) in Hong Kong, and the opening of Consumer Electronics China in Shenzhen.
This year, the IFA GPC was held outside of Europe for the first time ever. A few hundred of us journalists and tech bloggers got together in Hong Kong to learn about the state of consumer electronics and home appliances across the world, and to get news about the IFA, the big tech show that is held yearly in September in Berlin.
Part of the reason the IFA folks flew us to Asia was because of the launch of a new sister show in Shenzhen: CE China.
Trust me, moving so many of us from all over the world to Hong Kong for Part 1 of the conference, and then sending us to Shenzhen from Hong Kong by coach for Part 2, is no joke.
I saw a few cool things at the rather small-scale CE China (there were a few big booths by the likes of BSH and Alibaba, but also many small Shenzhen-based OEM booths). I particularly liked the smart bicycle helmet from Livall with built-in Bluetooth speakers and indicator lights. I also enjoyed playing with the Chinese Android phones that looked a lot like iPhones.
I came back to Hong Kong myself via the MTR at Lo Wu border crossing, instead of waiting for the conference coach. It was quite an adventure.
When I reached my hotel near Sai Ying Pun, I spotted this waiter in the restaurant who looked mighty familiar…
Caption: The author on a recent trip to Hokkaido with his mother. This is Shirogane Waterfall, near the Blue Pond.
On the back of Facebook launching Live Video for all users, an interesting statistic has emerged. According to reports, sharing on the site is still strong, but sharing personal stuff, the bedrock of Facebook, has gone down.
So much so that there is a term for it: Context Collapse.
Why are people posting less about themselves? My two cents:
Because there are too any CSI mobs out there. You know, the ones that dig up every scrap of info on you if you ever become a person of interest.
Because the kids are now in Snapchat (my Snapchat name is mrbrownlah). And kids know where the real action is.
Because there are other places to share with closer friends like (locked) Instagram, Path and iCloud Photo Sharing (I have one album that is seen by only six people).
Because you don’t know what algorithm Facebook will introduce next to prioritize your content to their whims.
Because stuff shared on Facebook have a tendency to resurface under very disturbing circumstances after years of lying dormant.
I’m also not sure if Live Video will make people wanna share personal stuff again. So far, the live video tools on Facebook are primitive compared to what Snapchat does.
Since I mentioned Snapchat, here is a recent video I shared on Snapchat Stories that never made it to Facebook.
Why didn’t I share it on Facebook? I don’t really know. My Snapchat followers had a blast watching it in the 24 hours it was up there though.
Maybe there is something fun about sharing something ephemeral like this (I know, I have just made more permanent sharing it on YouTube). It is shared, and then it is gone. If you came by my Snapchat a day later, you wouldn’t experience that semi-live moment. I don’t know if anyone liked it a lot or hated it, as there isn’t any hardcore commenting tool available, and strangely, that is great too.
And before you get your panties in a twist, yes, it is a vertical video. Hey, it is Snapchat, vertical videos ARE the default view in that space. Get over it.
Facebook wants our content, it wants our undivided attention But as it gets bigger and bigger, with more and more of your friends, family and semi-friends on it, and corporate media companies on the same bed, I am not sure it is the intimate kampong it once was.
When Qingjian Realty asked me if I wanted to see their Smart Home showflat, I was at first a bit skeptical. It is not easy to pull this off and get the tech infrastructure right. So out of curiosity, I went to the northern part of Singapore to have a look at their showflat.
The Visionaire is an Executive Condominium (EC) project located near the upcoming Canberra MRT station, at Sembawang. It is touted as the first EC with Smart Homes.
Now I love tech as much as the next geek, and I have tried to make my own home “Smart”, so I know how hard it is to implement the Internet of Things on your own. I think if a developer can help you implement the Smart Home stuff from the beginning, using standards like ZigBee and Z-Wave, you will be able to build on that infrastructure easily.
On my tour of their Smart Home showflat, Qingjian showed me how they envision future homes, with their technology partner Samsung Asia. There is Smart Home tech like a digital lockset for your door, Smart IP cameras for monitoring your home inside and outside, Smart air conditioner, Smart motion and temperature sensors, a Smart sound system, Smart washing machine and Smart lighting, all controlled by a Smart Home Control Center app, that is available for both Android and iOS.
Turn on the aircon to get the best temperature just before reaching home, or turn on the lights and music and draw the curtains as a morning wake-up alarm, or turn on your washing machine for it to finish the laundry just before you get back, it can all be done in this Smart home.
I particularly liked the ability to monitor the power usage of the various appliances and devices in the apartment.
The Visionaire EC also offers the hiLife app, already in use by many other properties, for future Visionaire residents to do things like book facilities, get home services, and order from food caterers (like for your upcoming BBQ).
Tech aside, I was very impressed by the layout of the entire property. That 50m pool, wow.
There is ample greenery and generous communal space, an iconic-looking clubhouse with rooms for courses, parties and functions, and BBQ pits peppered throughout the area.
I was struck also by the clever use of space in the apartments. You can combine two spaces into a larger area, a concept Qingjian calls CoSpace.
The fittings and materials used are very high quality, I must say. If you didn’t tell me this was an Executive Condominium, I would have sworn it was some high-end condo. I also liked that the blocks are spaced out nicely, without the over-density that plagues other developments.
Sembawang MRT station is nearby, and when Canberra MRT station is open very soon after The Visionaire is completed, it will be even more convenient. There are also shopping centres nearby, like Sun Plaza, and the upcoming North Point City and Canberra Plaza, and a future sports and community hub.
Do drop by at their future life exhibit and see it for yourself. E-applications start from 8th of April 2016, and details are at www.thevisionaire.com.sg.
I just realized that this is the fourth year in a row I am writing on dengue prevention (last year I wrote this). But I had a scare a few weeks ago, when I was suspected of having dengue (it turned out to be food poisoning and fever). And another friend had a dengue attack just weeks before a church Christmas production (he got well, thank goodness). Both cases reminded me that dengue is still out there
2013 was a year when dengue cases were very high. NEA projects that dengue cases this year could go up to 30,000. That is higher than the record in 2013 when 22,170 cases were reported.
Already the weekly cases from Jan – Mar were much more than compared to 2015. That is not a good way to start 2016. Apparently this is due to El Nino causing warmer weather conditions, high mosquito population and a change of the main circulating virus. Warm conditions make mozzies breed and mature faster. It's like a summer honeymoon for them.
Go check out the dengue clusters from dengue.gov.sg, and see that many of the hotspots are in residential areas. Because a majority of mosquito breeding habitats are found in homes.
Our homes, people. The mozzies are breeding in our homes and disrespecting us!
It's such a serious situation that the big stick is coming down. At this year's Mozzie Wipeout campaign launch, the NEA announced a step up in enforcement measures — any homes found with mosquito breeding are liable for a fine, as opposed to only those found in dengue clusters. Nobody likes to be fined but tough times need tough measures.
But besides enforcement, NEA is also deploying gravitraps to monitor and suppress mosquito population, as well as drones to check for mosquito breeding in areas that are hard to reach. There are also breakthroughs in dengue vaccines that are being tested for viability for use in Singapore.
I would like to see those drones in action myself. That's pretty cool use of tech.
So please please please lah, help yourself and your family and help your neighbours and do your part.
Doing the Mozzie Wipeout is very easy: Turn the pail, flip the plate, tip the vase, cap the pole holder, clear the gutter. So catchy, maybe I should write another Mozzie Wipeout song like I did last time.
I didn't manage to get on TV news with the new Minister this year (heng ah, I have a tendency of photobombing these events hor?) but I still say: dengue must die. So do the 5-Step Mozzie Wipeout. Stop the breeding, you stop the dengue transmissions, it is as simple as that.
Faith has a growing list of songs that she likes. She can’t sing the words, being non-verbal and severely autistic, but like any other teen, she has her favorites and we only find out when she starts to vocalize or hum the tunes.
Faith’s latest jam is Fight Song by Rachel Platten. She’s been humming the tune over the weekend.
I thought the lyrics were very interesting for a non-verbal autistic 15-year-old girl, even if she may or may not understand the words.
“This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
’Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.”
As her parents, I wonder if the song is also a reminder for us to always keep fighting for her. God knows there are days we don’t feel like we have any fight left in us.
But Faith is our Fight Song.
[Top photo is Faith running to the living room to wear her shoes and accompany Mommy to pick Joy up from tuition. She was a little annoyed that Mommy wouldn't let her have the iPhone. But yet keen to wear her shoes to go out. Just like a teenager.]
I wanted very much to like this movie. I did. But I am sorry. On hindsight, you can tell how the movie will turn out just from the title alone.
Firstly the movie, like the title, is long. Too long. It just dragged on and on. It took forever for the two heroes to fight. And then that fight wasn't the end of it. We still had the big bad guy to fight. Then Wonder Woman showed up. Then there was the post-fight. "When will this movie end?" you will ask.
Secondly, the movie tried to do too much and ended up doing nothing. Like the title tells you, there is Batman. There is Superman. There is Dawn of something. There is a Justice League movie coming (actually two parts). So, like a Hong Kong Chinese New Year ensemble movie, cameos and Easter Eggs are all over the place. You end up with a rojak of a movie without a proper story being told. Just a bunch of string of setups for the coming universe.
Thirdly, as the title tells you, this is a very serious movie. Serious serious serious. Don't-bring-your-kid-to-watch-it serious. Many-people-die and Terrorism-is-referenced serious.
Seriously. Does anybody have any FUN at all in the movie? Ok, maybe Lex Luthor. But even his motivations are serious. And he is kind of annoying.
There were bright spots. I enjoyed seeing Wonder Woman. I yayed when she showed up. She was the only character the didn't have any major angst or brooded. She was just straight up badass and whoop-ass. Gal Gadot was so much better here than in Furious 7. All hail Wonder Woman.
Although my wife still thinks Lynda Carter is still the best.
I also enjoyed some of the fight scenes. Batman's vehicles and his Superman-Buster suit were very impressive to see in action.
Oh. If it bothered you that Superman kills in Man of Steel, you'll need to know that Batman kills too, in this movie. A lot. And uses guns. And shoots bad guys with said guns. For some, that's even more sacrilegious than seeing Supes kill Zod in the first movie.
Batman shooting people with guns. It's almost like watching Deadpool, except without the humour.
Yes, I know, I know, Batman has bent his No Guns and No Taking a Life rules in the comics before. But in this movie, it's almost as if he never had those rules. He's just straight up Rambo.
I think if you read many DC comics, you will enjoy this movie and be able to call out all the links and Easter Eggs. But for a general audience, you're just going to be lost. Like my wife, who needed me to explain more than half the movie to her.
Maybe we shouldn't let Zack Snyder direct any more superhero movies. If you didn't like Man of Steel, you won't like this one either.
We get it. Cavill's Superman is a modern-day Jesus (oh look we opened over Easter, so clever!). He is godlike and brooding. Affleck's Batman is also brooding, and angry, and seething. Two angry and brooding mama's boys in one movie.
You almost wish they would beat each other into a pulp and then we can reboot Batman and Superman yet again. Or just proceed with Woman Woman alone.
If you still want to watch this, I would recommend the IMAX version. The epic fight scenes do look grander on the IMAX screen.
Maybe I will rewatch Nolan's Batman series. Batman v Superman makes the Nolan trilogy feel lighthearted and fun now. And at least some of it takes place during the day.